I was previously intrigued by the first and second teaser trailers for The Master, the new film from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, whose psycho-oil-magnate character study There Will Be Blood remains indelible and haunting even though I only saw it the one time in its theatrical release. The Master is an alleged roman à clef, or perhaps a mere parable, about the introduction of Scientology to the masses by one man who at first glance doesn’t quite appear to be Moses or Mohammed.
A longer, less vague full-length trailer is now available, with new shots of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the cagey author, Joaquin Phoenix as the agitated follower, and Amy Adams as the female.
The “cult” aspect is now unmistakably in the forefront. Hoffman has crowds at his disposal and detractors in the corners. Phoenix is all about the head-tilting, lip-curling, mule-headed arrogance. Adams has more than one line as the naive (?), supportive wife. Non-believers probably played by decent character actors will presumably either get on board with Hoffmanetics or suffer ignominious fates.
To be honest, I’m a little afraid to get too attached to this. If the movie turns out to be a three-hour sex scene and the only scenes with clothing are all in the trailer, I may have to bow out. If the plot takes a hairpin curve and ends with a surprise endorsement of Scientology in the form of an hour-long passionate hard-sell from the cast and crew, I promise I’ll pitch a fit. If we can tell early on that this was filmed during Phoenix’s bizarre rap phase, I’m out. If the next trailer is all about explosions and collisions, I’ll flip a coin.